Month: October 2019

Tips for a HEALTHY Halloween

It’s that time of year again – time for ghosties and ghoulies, fright and fun, tricks and treats! Halloween is a TON of fun, but it’s easy for kids (and parents!) to overindulge. Walking door-to-door for trick or treating can be great exercise – but the mountains of candy as a result of the kiddos labor can be, well, downright FRIGHTFUL. For reference, it takes about 15 minutes to swimming laps to burn off the calories of ONE Reese Peanut Butter Cup. YIKES!

That’s not the say that we shouldn’t let the kids indulge a little bit! Halloween is a great time to teach the importance of moderation and making healthy choices. According to Garry Sigman, MD, director of the pediatric weight management program at Loyola University Health System and a professor in the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, “Halloween is great fun for kids with all the spooky decorations, costumes, and tasty treats. It also can be seen as a challenge for health-conscious parents,” Sigman says. “This doesn’t have to be the case. With a little bit of planning it can be a great time to model and help kids understand the importance of moderation and balance, two keys to healthy behavior.”

Thankfully, Dr. Sigman gives some advice for teaching kids about balance:
• Emphasize the non-food related aspects of the holiday, such as parties, decorations, spooky activities, costume contests, and games.

• Serve a healthy meal or snack before trick-or-treating, when sorting through the candy and every time you break out leftover candy.

• Make it a “moving” holiday to help balance the eating. Have a costume parade, a monster dance party, play games like costume tag or bobbing for apples. This will also leave less time for collecting candy.

He also gives come tips for teaching kids about moderation:
• Limit the size of the trick-or-treat bag for going door-to-door. Stay away from the pillow case and go for a small gift bag.

• Choose to hand out fun-size candies instead of full-size bars to help them understand portion control.

• Only keep a small amount of the candy out and put the rest in the freezer. This shows how you can still enjoy a special treat without going overboard. You are in control of the candy, the candy isn’t in control of you.

• Show kids that sometimes enough is enough by getting rid of extra candy. Many schools offer “Treats for Troops” where kids can donate their leftover candy, which is a great opportunity to teach children about helping others.

Source: Loyola University Health System

Hope everyone has a SAFE and FUN Halloween!

5 Tips for Packing Lunches That Your Kids Will Eat

Many parents worry about their children not eating well during the school day. . The more we learn about nutrition and the importance of the nutrients, vitamins and healthy foods on the brain and the body,  we know how essential it is that our kids have a healthy lunch to fuel their bodies. Studies have shown that hungry kids do not perform as well in school, and that nutrition is an essential for setting your kids up for success.  As a result, and in honor of back to school time, here at SWAP, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks for ensuring that your kids are getting the proper nutrition during the school day, and actually EATING the lunches that you’ve so thoughtfully packed. 

5 Tips for Packing Lunches that Your Kids Will Eat!

Have your child help:

Kids loving being “helpers”. It is so important to get kids involved in the kitchen and involved in preparing their food. Take your children food shopping with you and have them pick out what they’d like to eat. Kids are more likely to eat what they’ve picked out! Have them select their favorite fruits and veggies for their lunch. Have your child select which fruit and veggie they’d like, then help prepare it (wash it if they’re little, cut it up if they’re old enough, put it in their lunchbox). Once they see the work involved in preparing their lunch, and feel as if they’re contributing , they’re going to be more likely to eat what they’ve packed.

Talk to your children about the importance of eating healthy food

Kids are little sponges. They’re always learning new things and absorbing what we teach them. Sit down with your kiddos and discuss how important it is to eat well. Talk to your children about the importance of vitamins and nutrients, and how they affect our bodies. For instance, we know that Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for healthy eyesight, skin, growth, and fighting infections. Talk to them, in “kid” language, how eating their carrot sticks will help them to grow big and strong, and how it is important for healthy eyes and skin. Or, if they love sports, talk with your child about the importance of protein for strong muscles for playing football. Once kids understand WHY eating healthy foods is so important, they’re going to be more likely to eat what you’ve  given them. 

Make it fun and easy! 

So, this is no-brainer. But food should be FUN. And kids love fun food. It might be a little extra work, but if you take a teeny-tiny bit of extra time to cut their food into fun shapes, either using a cookie-cutter or simply a knife, even the fussiest eaters come home with empty lunch boxes. Make lunches easy to eat, and minimize hard-to-open packaging. Like adults, kids eat with their eyes first, too. Make their lunches visually appealing. If you make sure that the food looks appealing and fun, your kids will be far more likely to eat it. Not to mention, if you limit the amount of packaging, your kids will have more time to eat their lunches, instead of spending extra time trying to open them!  

Have your kids pick out their lunchbox

 Have your child pick out their favorite lunch box and they will look forward to lunch time and eating all of the yummy goodies you’ve packed for them. Let them pick out a water bottle in their favorite color to ensure that they’re drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated throughout the long school day!  

Let them know you’re thinking about them

This might sound a little silly, but little ones love when to know that they are on on your mind.  include a secret little note in their lunches – it can be as simple as a hand-drawn heart on a piece of paper a little joke. It may seem like a small gesture, but to most kids, it is the littlest things that mean the most! 

So, there you have it! 5 tips for making back-to-school lunches. What are your favorite tips? Share in the comments below!